Despite or perhaps even because of its history, the plant with its 430 employees is characterized by many innovations at product and process level – and by a very special corporate culture. When Holger Rauth – plant manager at the tWO since three and a half years – was asked by a journalist shortly before the plant’s anniversary why someone should apply to him, he explained: "On the one hand, adhesive technology is enormously fascinating and much more complex than you would expect. On the other hand, our corporate culture is unique. Everyone gets the chance to contribute their talents and take responsibility."
It all started with tesakrepp® - The tesa plant Offenburg celebrates its 60th anniversary
Exactly six decades ago, the tesa plant in Offenburg (tWO) started producing a classic product – tesakrepp®. Today, more than 2,000 different solutions for end consumers, trade as well as industry are manufactured here. For many years, in terms of volume, the tWO has been the largest location in the international tesa network.
"Everyone gets the chance to contribute their talents and take responsibility."
Plant Manager at the tWO
Several facts and figures provide impressive evidence of this distinctive team spirit: The average period of employment at the plant is 19 years and the sick leave rate over the past ten years amounts to only around 2%. These are top values in this industry! In 2012, the tWO received the award 'Great Place to Work", making it one of the 100 best employers in Germany. Furthermore, the tWO relies on the next generation: Two apprentices recently became German champions in their training occupation and even took part in the World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
It all started more than 60 years ago: The course for the construction of the tesa plant far away from the Headquarter in Northern Germany was laid as early as 1958. That year, the management of Beiersdorf AG in Hamburg traveled to Offenburg for the first time. Not in the far north, but in the heart of Europe, the entrepreneurs from the Hanseatic city were looking for a plot of land to build a factory specializing in technical adhesive tapes. In 1959, a contract was signed for the purchase of a 151,000 square meter property in Offenburg.
square meters of different adhesive tapes are produced at the tWO per year. With our classic tesafilm® alone, every year, 2,800 football fields suitable for European Championships could be completely covered.
The first construction phase began just one year later. In March 1961, the 'Chemische Werke Offenburg GmbH' (CWO) was founded. On July 1, the company officially started operations, and in December, there was the opening ceremony with the production start of tesakrepp®. Back then, 57 employees were working on the machines. In the first month, they already produced 17,600 square meters of tesakrepp®. Shortly afterwards, a second coating system for foils was put into operation: It marked the beginning of the tesafilm® production.
But even with 60 years on its back, the tesa plant Offenburg has remained young at heart and is valued as an exemplary and progressive company not only in the region of Baden-Wuerttemberg. One example of the high-level commitment shown by employees is that in the past year alone, 32 ideas that aimed at more sustainable management in different facets were implemented in specific projects: 23 activities were related to waste management and nine to energy consumption. These measures pay off not only ecologically, but also economically: The annual savings amount to almost 300,000 Euro. "Sustainability, customer orientation, profitability – and at the heart of it all: the employees." This is how Holger Rauth describes the guiding principle of the tWO. "Group work and trust-based working hours without a time clock are part of our daily lives. Instead of shift supervisors, foremen, etc., we rely on flat hierarchies." And that is exactly what motivates us to be innovative. Not only when it comes to sustainability, where the plant has played a pioneering role for a long time, but also in the optimization of production processes. Just recently, for example, a team from the tWO – together with colleagues from the Headquarter in Norderstedt near Hamburg – won the internal, internationally recognized and highly regarded innovation prize "HUGO".
For a sustainably successful future
Investments in pioneering technologies and in issues of sustainability have a long tradition at the tWO. For example, on the occasion of its 25th anniversary in 1986, the company invested in the coating system 'Hänge 12'. With around 15 million Euro, it is the largest single machine project in Beiersdorf's history to date. Since 1991, the plant in Offenburg also produces a new generation of tesafilm® made of environmentally friendly polypropylene film and water-based acrylate adhesive. With this technological breakthrough, the tWO focused on sustainability early on. Almost 20 years ago, another system was put into operation in Offenburg, with which all crepe tapes – and afterwards also other products – could be produced without using solvents.
Not least because of the great working ambiance, the tWO has so far survived the Covid-19 pandemic in the best possible way. On the one hand, because our disciplined colleagues strictly followed all hygienic and protection measures. On the other hand, because through regular continuous qualification and job rotation, the teams are able to master different production systems excellently. This allows to change shift systems flexibly and to react quickly to fluctuating order levels.
Last year, as many people used their time at home for renovations and repairs, it was easy for the tWO to adjust its production capacities. Furthermore, there was also a great need for social distancing tapes. At the tWO, which produces the social distancing adhesive tapes in black-yellow and white-red, even special shifts had to be run to meet the growing demand.
When asked "Where do you see the tWO in ten years?", Plant Manager Holger Rauth has a clear vision: "We are observing the same trends as other companies: The topic of sustainability is becoming ever more important. As an economically successful company, we want to make our contribution to using resources carefully and protecting the environment. This means: Reducing our CO2 footprint. We are already well positioned, as the tWO has placed great value on solvent-free products for many years." So, from August 2021, the tWO is happy to bring two new packaging tapes onto the market, where bio-based materials and recyclability play a crucial role.
Moreover, demographic change is an important issue in the region around Offenburg. Therefore, the tWO makes a clear commitment to the intensive support of young people. Besides the constant search for qualified workers, increasing digitalization is also having an impact on our everyday work by placing new demands on everyone. "In particular, we cannot even start to imagine the huge potential of artificial intelligence, for example, for preventive maintenance of production facilities. Certainly, a lot will change by the year 2031," predicts Holger Rauth.
Occupational Training at the tWO
The tWO currently offers ten apprenticeships, including five dual curriculum programs. Training professions: Electronics technician for industrial engineering, mechatronics technician, industrial mechanic, chemical technician, machine and system operator. Dual curriculum: Mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, mechatronics, safety engineering, plastics & elastomer technology. There are between 28 and 40 trainees and 6 to 10 participants in a dual curriculum program. This way, the course for the future is laid already at the plant, because most of the trainees and students are later taken on.